A receiver for the Tennessee Titans NFL football team, O.J. Murdock, was found Monday inside his car with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The 25-year-old was rushed to Tampa General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis, O.J. Murdock was found about 8:30 a.m. Monday in his car which was parked outside Middleton High School, his old high school in Tampa. The young footballer had what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the chest.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock's death this morning,” the Titans said in a statement on their official website. “In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent the last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year's training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy.”
O.J. Murdock was recovering from an Achilles injury that made him miss all of last season, so the his teammates weren't overly alarmed when he told them he would be a few days late reporting for training camp.
"I talked to him and just assumed it was a personal issue," teammate Damian Williams told reporters, recalling his last conversation with Murdock. "It's tough. He was always a happy guy who played around a lot and always had a smile on his face. I definitely didn't see it coming."
The apparent suicide came as a shock to Tennessee Titans especially Al McCray, assistant head coach at Fort Hays State, who said he received an odd text message from O.J. Murdock a few hours before police discovered the body.
"I got a text at 3:30 in the morning, where he said: `Coach, I want to thank you for everything you've done for me and my family. It's greatly appreciated,"' McCray said. "At the end, he goes: `I apologize.' And I don't know what he's talking about. I woke up, and I'm thinking he's apologizing because he texted me so early. ... I wish he had called instead."
O.J. Murdock was ranked as a top 10 receiver in the 2005 class during his senior year at Middleton. After a redshirt year at South Carolina, he could only play for a limited period before being suspended subsequent to a shoplifting arrest in Tampa.
He transferred to Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, then to Division II Fort Hays State in Kansas, where he had 60 catches for 1,290 yards and 12 touchdown his season. He was invited to the NFL scouting combine and was signed by the Tennessee Titans last summer but spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve after hurting his right Achilles.